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Old 02-01-2020, 10:10   #1
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Pinta Autohelm

I have a 1965 Van Lent steel 51ft motor yacht still fitted with the original Pinta autopilot device. A few years ago it worked well enough in calm seas but now has lost its sense of direction. I would like to either find someone who could repair the existing unit or failing that engineer a modern electronic unit incorporating the existing servo motor, clutch and drive mechanism which works perfectly. Anyone have any thoughts or experience on this topic? Just to complicate matters I live in Surrey and the boat is based near Rome airport!
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Old 02-01-2020, 10:39   #2
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Re: Pinta Autohelm

What a fascinating device

I can't really be of any help, and I see you've looked online in the past, so maybe you already have it, but the manual with complete electrical diagrams can be had here. Maybe that would help a repairer - if they can find components.

Thanks for providing an interesting read on nautical history, good luck in your search.
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Old 03-01-2020, 10:07   #3
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Re: Pinta Autohelm

Dsanduril thanks for your continuing interest in my Pinta problem and for the instruction book link. There is a modern device called a Py Pilot which the inventor tells me will work with any electric motor with a two wire control. However my motor has I believe 6 as it uses the motor current to stop or reverse it quickly without it running on. If there is an electrical wizzard out there who could examine the circuitary shown in the manual accessible through your link
(http://www.barbaryketch.co.uk/wp-con...0Manual001.pdf) and advise how to set up the motor to two wire control ( to run in forward or reverse), perhaps making use of the existing relays in the device then I should like to try a Py Pilot. Any volunteers?
Cheers Kilmaine
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Old 03-01-2020, 11:22   #4
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Re: Pinta Autohelm

I have the PyPilot on my list of upgrades for later this year

From taking a quick look I think (my opinion is worth every penny you paid for it).

If the Pinta's motor controls still work (can you use the "hand" functions to turn the wheel reliably?) then the unit is essentially already set up for two-wire control. If you look at the wiring diagram near the center you will see two "intermediate relays". If you look closely you will see that on one of these pin 2 is hooked up to 12V negative, on the other it is pin 7. So they steer opposite directions. You would take the existing wires off pin 7 (left relay) and pin 2 (right relay) and hook up the PyPilot motor controller wires to these locations - one wire to each relay (only testing would tell me which goes where, if the wheel turns the wrong direction swap the wires).

There's a chance you might need to put a pair of diodes in the lines, would take more review. There are some shown around the hand/auto switches. I think the PyPilot motor controller would take care of that part, but would need confirmation.

Taking that approach leaves all of the motor safety controls, the braking, etc. in place. It basically replaces the control head with the PyPilot. But, it requires that the only problem you have is with the control head (the compass and associated bits). If your problem is in the motor relays then it becomes more complicated.

If you can do that approach then you could also remove the flexible shaft and Bendix gear, these are used to get information back and forth to the control head. It looks easy to do on the drawing..... but I'd have to see the actual installation to see if it really is.

If you want to test in advance of spending money, I'd carefully (so hopefully you can put everything back) disconnect the two wires from the relays. Then connect a wire with a 1A or 2A fuse to someplace that has +12V on the same battery system. Connect the wire to one relay and see if the wheel turns. The motor should run until the limit switches cut it off (and the wheel will be hard over). Then disconnect from the first relay and connect to the other. The wheel should turn the opposite direction until the limit switches again stop it. Have someone stand by at a switch or have some other way to quickly turn off the power if the wheel gets hard over and the motor does not stop (don't want to damage the motor or the steering). If all of that works then you should be good to go for two-wire control.

BTW, is your boat at Porto Fiumicino? In the past have spent many nights there.
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Old 03-01-2020, 11:57   #5
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Re: Pinta Autohelm

Thank you for your swift and most useful response! The motor steers the boat when engaged, there is no hand control it only steers to the compass heading at the point of engagement. My feeling is that the current lack of direction is related to the compass head, the remainder of the mechanism seems to work it just weaves a course in ever increasing arcs until we disengage it! The compass head unit however does not appear to be like the one described no obvious bulbs or light receivers. The mechanical feedback connection to the helm is a Bowden cable and easily disabled or removed. I can e mail couple of photos if you let me have an address I donít know how to post pictures on this Forum!
Yes The boat is currently based in Fiumicino where we had some great trips to the Pontines and the Bay of Naples.
Do you still visit Italy? I take it from your details you are based in the US.
Kind regards
Kilmaine
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Old 03-01-2020, 12:05   #6
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Re: Pinta Autohelm

PS my email Crowntask@aol.com
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Old 03-01-2020, 12:15   #7
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Re: Pinta Autohelm

I can PM an e-mail address, but posting the pictures here might help if anyone else wants to provide input.

You have two options for pictures: If they are online somewhere you can click the image icon (looks like a little mountain with the sun) and post a link; if they are just on your computer then click the "Go Advanced" button when you are making a reply (at the bottom of the box where your are typing). Then you can attach pictures from your computer to your post (see the picture below).

Click image for larger version

Name:	Post pictures.PNG
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When you click the button I have circled the first time it will ask you what files to upload. Select them and click "Upload". Then come back to the reply and put the cursor where you like, click the little "arrow" next to the "paperclip" and there will be a list of your pictures. You can click each one and it will put them in the post.

----

It has been about 5 or 6 years since I was in Italy/Fiumicino but I remember many evenings after a sail sitting at a cafe on the waterfront watching the harbor.
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Old 03-01-2020, 13:18   #8
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Re: Pinta Autohelm

Wow, read the Pinta manual and haven't seen anything that old since we removed our ancient Wood-Freeman AP system.
Originally was thinking in a similar fashion to save some of the existing AP parts, but then started looking how small and efficient APs are now compared to the old point and shoot. Bottom line, it wasn't worth it since technology has advanced leaps and bounds since the original metal mike (AP) was created.
We have a pypilot and think its great. There are videos out there where the pypilot was used on a large steel sailboat. If cost is a concern, it has all the bells on whistles of a name brand AP for a very low fraction of the cost.

Here are some links to how we set up the nav. computer Phoenix's Flight: Building a Marine Navigational Computer with OpenCPN and Raspberry Pi3 and the pypilot Phoenix's Flight: Pypilot Open-Source Marine Autopilot for Hydraulic Steering

Will say we are not major computer wizards, but could figure out how to download OpenCPN and make it work. It may seem like too much work up front, but you probably will/already have spent more time trying to resurrect a very basic AP than putting together a new pypilot.


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Old 04-01-2020, 05:44   #9
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Re: Pinta Autohelm

Bill O thanks for your encouragement regarding PyPilot! I am very happy to install a new system but would just like to retain the existing mechanical element as fitted by Van Lent in 1965. It’s well engineered and hidden away behind the lower helm and works perfectly with a proper clutch and chain drive. Having bought the vessel from its first owner 15 years ago I have tried to retain as many original features as possible especially the interior fittings. It must be something to do with my other interest vintage cars!
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Old 04-01-2020, 07:57   #10
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Re: Pinta Autohelm

Quote:
Originally Posted by kilmaine View Post
Bill O thanks for your encouragement regarding PyPilot! I am very happy to install a new system but would just like to retain the existing mechanical element as fitted by Van Lent in 1965. Itís well engineered and hidden away behind the lower helm and works perfectly with a proper clutch and chain drive. Having bought the vessel from its first owner 15 years ago I have tried to retain as many original features as possible especially the interior fittings. It must be something to do with my other interest vintage cars!

It would be great to see a pic of the setup you want to save. Do you have the manual clutch or the remote "electronic" version?
Look at the videos where the pypilot uses a 24V truck wiper motor. This could most likely be swapped in for your motor and then put a sprocket on the motor shaft to fit your set up.
Alternatively if you could isolate the 2 power wires on your motor, then you should be able to use it straight up.
Once you get into setting up opencpn and the pypilot, you'll see how simple it is and wonder why you waited so ling to have a state of the art nav. system and AP.


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